Car bomb kills 27 in Afghanistan as US prepares to pull out troops

An Afghan man looking out through a broken window after Friday night's car bomb blast in Logar province. It is not yet clear who was responsible for the explosion. PHOTO: REUTERS
An Afghan man looking out through a broken window after Friday night's car bomb blast in Logar province. It is not yet clear who was responsible for the explosion. PHOTO: REUTERS

KABUL • A huge car bomb has killed at least 27 people and injured dozens more in Afghanistan's eastern Logar province, with high school students among the casualties, local officials said.

The car packed with explosives blew up in Logar's capital of Pul-e Alam on Friday near the house of the former head of the provincial council, Didar Lawang, said the spokesman for Logar's governor.

The building was also a guesthouse and the blast struck just as guests were breaking their fast during the Islamic month of Ramadan, said the head of Logar's provincial council, Mr Hasibullah Stanekzai, who added that 27 people were killed and dozens more wounded.

Among the casualties were high school students who had been staying at the guesthouse, having travelled to the capital city Kabul to sit their university entrance exam, as well as pro-government militia members who were staying there while waiting for air transport to another distinct.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the blast. A spokesman for the insurgent Taleban said in response to Reuters' questions that they were looking into the matter.

Violence in Afghanistan has escalated in recent weeks after US President Joe Biden announced the withdrawal of American troops by Sept 11 to end two decades of foreign military presence.

That decision angered the Taleban, who had signed a deal with Mr Biden's predecessor, Mr Donald Trump, that specified troops would be gone from the country by yesterday, subject to certain security guarantees.

Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian put the number of deaths at 21 and injured at 91, and said that a rescue and recovery operation was continuing.

A provincial health official said just over 60 injured people had been taken to hospital and many students were among the victims.

The European Union's delegation to Afghanistan condemned the attack.

"In the holy month of Ramadan, horrible news on a car bomb in Pul-e-Alam, Logar province, killing and injuring innocent civilians, including students... this is a tragedy for the whole country," it said on Twitter.

Since striking the withdrawal deal with the United States, the Taleban have not directly engaged foreign troops, but insurgents have attacked government forces in the countryside and waged a terror campaign in urban areas.

The exit of US forces has only exacerbated the fear felt by ordinary Afghans. "Everyone is scared that we might go back to the dark days of the Taleban era," said Ms Mena Nowrozi, who works at a private radio station in Kabul.

"The Taleban are still the same; they have not changed. The US should have extended their presence by at least a year or two," she said.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 02, 2021, with the headline 'Car bomb kills 27 in Afghanistan as US prepares to pull out troops'. Subscribe